A common question I get asked from my parents is “how do I stay consistent with my baby’s sleep plan when I have an older child that I have to think about as well.” I completely understand where they are coming from and can totally relate. Let’s take it back to last summer.
I had 4 month old twins and a 3-year-old and I was just starting to carve out a sleep plan for the babies but really struggled with how I was going to add their big sister into their routine. The poor kid was going to be so bored if I was stuck at home while getting the twins adapted to their new routine. Mornings were the main concern they all took an afternoon nap at the same time but when they went down in the morning I was stuck at home and so was she. It was summer and beautiful out and it wasn’t fair to her. In those first few weeks of training, consistency is everything. What do I do with her? How do I make the mornings fun for her, while still protecting the sleep of the twins?
So while I created a sleep training plan for the twins I created a game plan for my daughter as well. Here are tips that worked for us.
- Get help! The BEST thing I did was hire our 15-year-old babysitter, who my daughter knows and loves, 2 mornings a week. She would come over for 3 hours in the morning and hang out with my daughter. She’d play with her outside, take her out on her bike or to the park. While they were down for their nap I could do some cleaning or fold the laundry, and it was definitely worth doing. If you can hire a sitter or even better recruit Grandma or Grandpa for free, work them into your weekly schedule for the summer. Your child will love the attention that you may not be able to always give them because you’re dealing with a baby, and keep them from getting too bored.
- Playdates are great! You may think I’m crazy by telling you to invite more children to your house but it actually works perfectly. This way you don’t have to physically go anywhere and your child is having a blast playing with their friends.
- Sign up for some program fun! Your community will have programs perfect for your little ones active needs. If it’s tough to get out, see if you can sign them up with a buddy and arrange carpooling with the other parent. Can the Grandparents drop off and pick up? Even if it’s just one morning a week, they will love it!
- Use your time alone together to bond and have some quality time together. This is a great opportunity to focus all of your attention on your child, when that can be tough to do when the baby is awake.
Sometimes all it takes is a little organizing and some outside help and you can feel good knowing your toddler is still able to have fun while you’re encouraging healthy sleep for your new baby.
Alanna McGinn is a Certified Infant and Toddler Sleep Consultant and Founder of Good Night Sleep Site – a Global Pediatric and Family Sleep Team. She provides free child and family sleep support through her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She invites you to join her sleep community as she works towards Good Night Sleep Site’s mission of a healthier rested family unit. For more sleep tips please visit Good Night Sleep Site.